Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Letter on Nothing and Everything

Dear readers,

I'm writing you in letter format again, since I love writing and receiving letters and want to keep up the lost art form as I did last year. E-mails are faster, but they're always less thoughtful somehow than a good old fashioned letter. Do you write letters?

I'm at one of my most favorite places right now - the library. The Internet has been down for the past several days at my place which means no blogging from there, which I've intended to do since I haven't posted lately. Sweetheart keeps saying he'll look into it, but every spare moment I catch Steve trying to master the Rubik's Cube I got in one of my mystery bags from Cinema Verite thrift shop. Hmph!

I went to read my blog roll this morning and couldn't believe how Cate summed up exactly what I was feeling in her post, "Moments of Doing Nothing" on her blog, Liberal Simplicity. While I'm not on Facebook or Twitter, I've realized how much time I spend surfing when I did have access. My mind feels cluttered too, my creativity sapped. Cate writes,

"I need those moments of doing "nothing." I need to stand stirring a pot of soup for a little too long, or hide under blankets with [daughter] Simone just because, or gaze out the window while petting a cat behind the ears. Without them, something in my imagination breaks loose.

I think I'm going to go do nothing now, and savor every second of it."

Winter to me is very much about these cherished "nothing" moments.

My friend Kristin pens a beautiful poetry blog, Wordfall, and in Windchill, she considers,

"Winter forces us
to center ourselves and prepare.

We need the vigil of oncoming snow or ice storms
to set us to establish some sort of reality, a surrender."

Savor. Reality. Surrender. Aren't Cate and Kristin so right?

Speaking of savoring, I recall many years ago Ann Wells wrote a moving story about a stunning, expensive piece of lingerie her sister bought on a trip to New York nearly a decade earlier but was never worn. She was saving it for a special occasion. Her brother-in-law was unwrapping it and taking it to the morgue. He said, "Don't ever save anything for a special occasion. Every day you're alive is a special occasion."

Wells reflects,

"I'm still thinking about his words, and they've changed my life. I'm reading more and dusting less. I'm sitting on the deck and admiring the view without fussing about the weeds in the garden. I'm spending more time with my family and friends and less time in committee meetings. Whenever possible, life should be a pattern of experience to savor, not endure. I'm trying to recognize these moments now and cherish them.

I'm not "saving" anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event-such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped, the first camellia blossom.

I wear my good blazer to the market if I feel like it. My theory is if I look prosperous, I can shell out $28.49 for one small bag of groceries without wincing. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties; clerks in hardware stores and tellers in banks have noses that function as well as my party-going friends'."

So those are the words inspiring me on this very cold winter's night, when sometimes my own voice feels muted. In the new year I've been reading more and surfing less, and my life feels richer. I'm tapping into simple joys in my day, like the smell of an apple cinnamon candle, the coziness of cinnamon tea on a brisk day, the security I feel under a blanket.

I'm off to enjoy some potato leek soup, followed by a hot shower and a good book. I suspect Steve will be working on the Rubik's Cube when I get home, but somehow, that thought is comforting too, knowing he's there, enjoying his own moments of "nothing."

Nothing is sometimes everything you need. Happy nothingness to you.



  1. I've been so into nothingness, stillness, simplicity lately -- it's where all the big moments in life seem to happen. Keep thinking too about how you need emptiness in order to create.

    Funny that our blogs are somewhat similarly named..

  2. I'm with you! Last American Childhood - great name!